Dayton agrees to fund Legislature until October

Published 10:00 pm Sunday, June 25, 2017

ST. PAUL — Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton announced Friday that he has agreed to continue to fund the Minnesota Legislature until October, while the lawmakers’ lawsuit over his decision to cut their funding is pending.

A joint stipulation by Dayton’s attorneys and lawyers for Republican legislative leaders asked a Ramsey County court to continue funding for House and Senate members, their staffs and their operating obligations for 90 days.

Dayton said in a statement that if approved, the agreement will protect legislative employees and Minnesota’s credit rating.

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“I hope that this agreement signals the resumption of good faith negotiations to resolve our policy differences and protect our State’s fiscal integrity,” he said.

Republican legislative leaders sued Dayton last week after he used a line-item veto to nix the two-year, $130 million budget for the House and Senate. They argued his veto was unconstitutional.

The dispute stemmed from political maneuvering as a $46 billion budget was being finished at the end of the session, when Republicans forced Dayton into signing a package of $650 million in tax breaks, linking them to funds for 1,300 Department of Revenue employees. Dayton used his line-item veto to cut funding for the Legislature, seeing it as leverage to renegotiate the tax measures.

In court filings earlier this week, the House and Senate said they had plans to furlough or lay off all legislative employees in coming months if the legal battle dragged on.